White receives wealth of endorsements

Showing support: Thirteen unions endorsed Republican Martina White in the special election in the 170th Legislative District. The endorsement announcement was made at a Feb. 26 news conference at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.

Thirteen unions last week endorsed Republican Martina White in the special election in the 170th Legislative District.

White faces Democrat Sarah DelRicci on March 24 for the seat given up by new congressman Brendan Boyle.

The endorsement announcement was made at a Feb. 26 news conference at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.

The unions backing White are FOP Lodge 5; International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 21; AFSCME District Council 33; Teamsters Local 500; Gas Workers Local 686; Drywall Fitters Local 1955; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 8; Glaziers Local 252; Sprinkler Fitters Local 692; Steamfitters Local 420; Painters 2011; and Plasterers Local 8.

White said she will focus on nonpartisan issues such as creating jobs, improving schools, looking out for taxpayers and enhancing public safety.

“I stand with working families,” she said.

John McNesby, president of FOP Lodge 5, said White “will have our backs once she’s elected.”

“We feel confident in Martina White,” he said.

Joe Schulle, president of Local 22, believes White will stand up for working families and be a vocal advocate for bipartisan cooperation over political gamesmanship.

Joe Ashdale, business manager for District Council 21, likes White’s professional experience as a financial adviser. He sees her as a moderate, common-sense Republican who will be more effective in the House of Representatives majority than a Democrat in the minority.

Republicans hold a commanding 119–83 advantage in the House. Democrats might not be able to get close to the majority until 2022 redistricting.

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State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, a Democratic candidate for mayor, last week accepted the endorsement of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542.

“As mayor, I look forward to working together to develop a more modern Philadelphia, by upgrading our infrastructure, developing a clean energy economy, creating jobs that pay fair wages, and to help make Philadelphia a significant player in the global economy,” he said.

In a statement, IUOE 542 Business Manager Robert Heenan said, “After looking at all the candidates running for Mayor, it was clear to us that there was only one person who shared our values and has a record of getting things done for working people — Anthony Hardy Williams. Tony understands that in order to make our economy work for all families we need to invest in every neighborhood in every part of the city. He has delivered time and again as we work to strengthen our infrastructure and our economy.”

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In other news, Williams released a statement regarding Centre County Court President Judge Thomas K. Kistler, who withdrew his nomination to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court following reports that he once forwarded an email titled, “Merry Christmas From the Johnsons.”

The message depicted a black man and a black woman during what appears to be a jail visit. The man, smiling and wearing an orange prison uniform, sits behind a glass window. It was forwarded with a subject line that read, “Best Christmas card ever.” Santa Claus and reindeer are also depicted.

Williams said, “A Republican State Supreme Court candidate recently came under fire for distributing a racially inflammatory email and has since had to withdraw his nomination — which was the right thing to do. However, it does not go far enough. How can we trust his judicial temperament and objectivity? Judge Kistler should resign, immediately. If he is no longer worthy of the Supreme Court, why is he still able to serve at all? If he is unfit for the State’s High Court, he is unfit for any bench. This is yet another reason why November’s election is important to Philadelphia’s future. It’s not just a mayoral election; it’s about the kind of Supreme Court we want. Philadelphians deserves a supreme court that is diverse, reflects fair and impartial judgment towards all of its citizens and values the lives of all Pennsylvanians.”

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Jim Kenney, another Democratic candidate for mayor, released the following statement on last week’s announcement that the School Reform Commission will appeal the Commonwealth Court’s decision on the teachers’ contract to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:

“I have said from the beginning that the fate of our schools must not be decided in a courtroom. We will never create a high-quality, well-funded school system until all stakeholders return to negotiations and agree on a shared sacrifice. Creating additional revenue does limited good if at the same time we deter dedicated, motivated teachers by balancing the budget entirely on their backs. As mayor, I will stop treating our teachers as the problem and involve them in the solution.”

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Meanwhile, Kenney announced the formation of a policy committee that will work in conjunction with his campaign to shape neighborhood policy proposals.

“From the beginning, my campaign has focused on building a coalition. In order to meet our city’s challenges, all Philadelphians must work together. The business leaders, educators and community advocates on this committee demonstrate that we do not have to wait for Superman to fly in from Harrisburg. These diverse individuals will help to make Philadelphia more self-reliant, independent and inclusive than ever before,” he said.

The committee will be chaired by Alba Martinez, former CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

There will be co-chairs focused on immigration, social justice, youth and families, economic development, education, government ethics and public safety.

Co-chairs include Otis D. Hackney III, principal of South Philadelphia High School; the Rev. George Bur, president of St. Joseph’s Prep; and Bob Ballentine, recording secretary for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.

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In response to the announcement that Gov. Tom Wolf is replacing Bill Green with Marjorie Neff as chair of the School Reform Commission, Democratic City Council at-large candidate Helen Gym issued the following statement:

“Marjorie Neff will make an outstanding chair of the SRC. She has developed and managed some of the best schools in Philadelphia. Her appointment as chairwoman marks the first time a longtime educator will serve as chair of the SRC, and will provide an important shift in approach toward an invested and stable Philadelphia school system.”

Sherrie Cohen, who is also running in the Democratic primary for an at-large seat, backs Wolf’s decision. Cohen wants Neff to rescind the recent granting of five new charter schools, including a new MaST Community Charter School.

“I applaud the Governor’s wise action of ousting Bill Green as Chairman of the SRC and congratulate life-long educator and public school parent, Marjorie Neff, on her appointment as Chair,” she said.

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City Council last week passed legislation that proposes to amend the Home Rule Charter to ensure what supporters call “language access.”

The resolution, introduced by Councilwoman María Quiñones Sánchez and co-sponsored by Councilman Wilson Goode Jr., will be presented to voters on the May 19 ballot.

The foreign-born population in Philadelphia has increased by more than 40,000 people in the last 15 years. One in five Philadelphians speak a language other than English at home.

If adopted by voters, the amendment will ensure that uniform standards are followed by all city agencies, boards and commissions. Newly covered agencies include City Council and offices such as the city elections commissioners, the district attorney, the sheriff and the Board of Revision of Taxes.

With the amendment, the mayor would be required to designate an entity to assist agencies with drafting and implementing language access plans, and to evaluate their compliance. Furthermore, an annual report for each agency will be filed with the Department of Records and made available to the public.

“There absolutely should not be any barriers to equitable access to city services for any citizen of Philadelphia,” Goode said. “Every demographic group, every neighborhood and every language speaker deserves the same entitlements. I am proud to stand with Councilwoman Quiñones Sánchez to protect those basic rights.”

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Jared Solomon, who lost by just 158 votes in last year’s Democratic primary challenge to veteran state Rep. Mark Cohen, plans another run in 2016.

Solomon, a lawyer and president of the Castor Gardens-based Take Back Your Neighborhood Civic Association, will be hosting a “thank you” get together for supporters on Wednesday, March 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Casa Brazil, 6222 Bustleton Ave.

A free buffet dinner will be served.

Solomon wrote to supporters, “We talked about improving the security in our region during my campaign. So we are partnering with a security firm that will work with local law enforcement to increase patrols in our neighborhood. In addition, we talked about increasing after-school programming. So we are collaborating with a corporate sponsor and ‘Legacy Tennis’ to provide summer enrichment programs for kids. We talked about failing infrastructure. So we are creating a public-private partnership to revitalize our local recreation center (Max Myers). ••